[Imc-beirut] Iraq Dispatches: An "Alliance" of Violence
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Wed Mar 29 14:46:18 PST 2006
** Dahr Jamail's Iraq Dispatches **
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An "Alliance" of Violence
By Dahr Jamail
t r u t h o u t | Perspective
Wednesday 29 March 2006
A disturbing trend noticeable in Iraq for quite some time now is that
each aggressive Israeli military operation in the occupied territories
results in a corresponding increase in the number of attacks on US
forces in Iraq. One of the first instances of this was the assassination
of Hamas leader Sheikh Ahmed Yassin in March 2004 and the reaction it
set off across Shia and Sunni, ultimately spiraling into the siege and
devastation of Fallujah. Fallujah is but one example one may use to
demonstrate how the ongoing use of heavy handed tactics by the US-Israel
alliance is proving to be as suicidal as it is homicidal. US troops in
Iraq and Israeli civilians in their homes can bear testimony to this, as
they are the ones who bear the brunt. Not to mention the collateral
damage in Iraq.
May 17, 2004, Washington
Cofer Black, at the time Coordinator for Counterterrorism for the US
State Department, in a talk at the 2004 Policy Conference
<http://canberra.usembassy.gov/hyper/2004/0518/epf204.htm> for the
American-Israeli Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC), said that of all the
nations cooperating with the US in the global war on terror, "none [is]
more stalwart than the state of Israel." He told the audience of the
powerful lobby group that "Our two great nations will stand together to
fight terror" and deemed the US-Israel Joint Counterterrorism Group
(JCG) "an important part of our counterterrorism partnership."
May 10, 2004, Fallujah, Iraq
The first US siege of Fallujah ended in early May, 2004, and on May 10th
US forces abandoned all control of the city, handing it back over to the
April 4, 2004, Fallujah, Iraq
US military directed to launch the first, and eventually failed, revenge
assault in retaliation for the four Blackwater USA mercenaries killed on
March 31st. The siege caused severe casualties among the people of
Fallujah, killing 736 people, over 60% of whom were women, children and
the elderly, according to the director of Fallujah General Hospital.
April 2, 2004, Iraq
Speaking on al-Manar TV, Muqtada al-Sadr pledged, "From here I announce
my solidarity with the genuine unity announced by Hezbollah general
secretary Hassan Nasrallah with the mujahideen movement Hamas. Let them
consider me their striking hand in Iraq whenever the need arises. As the
martyr Sheikh Ahmed Yassin said, Iraq and Palestine have the same destiny."
March 31, 2004, Fallujah, Iraq
Four Blackwater USA mercenaries killed in Fallujah in an attack avenging
the assassination of Hamas leader Sheikh Ahmed Yassin. Nine days after
the assassination, the bodies of four mercenaries from Blackwater USA
were burned, chopped into pieces, dragged behind vehicles bearing
posters of Sheikh Yassin, and finally put on display by being hung from
a bridge. Pamphlets were distributed at the scene which declared the
attack against the four men as having been carried out in the name of
Yassin. It was also reported by several Arab media outlets at the time
that a group known as the "Phalange of Sheikh Yassin" claimed
responsibility for the attack, and that the deaths of the four men were
meant as a "gift to the Palestinian people."
March 28, 2004, Baghdad, Iraq
The head of the CPA, Paul Bremer, ordered the closing of the al-Hawza
newspaper, the mouthpiece of Muqtada al-Sadr. One of Sadr's
spokespeople, Sheikh Mahmud Sudani, told reporters at the time that
al-Hawza had attracted censure because of its strong critique of the
killing of Sheikh Yassin by Israeli forces. The closing of this paper
was a primary factor that led to the first violent uprising called by
Sadr against the occupiers.
March 26, 2004, Iraq
Four days after the assassination of Yassin, thousands of followers of
the Shia cleric Muqtada al-Sadr, carrying portraits both of Yassin and
Sadr, demonstrated after Friday prayers in protest of Israel's action by
burning Israeli flags, chanting "No, no to Israel" and "No, no to
occupation." In Najaf, an Imam with the extremely powerful political
party the Supreme Council for Islamic Revolution in Iraq (SCIRI) called
for demonstrations outside the revered Imam Ali mosque. Similar
demonstrations were also held as far north as the city of Mosul.
The demonstration began promptly after it was ordered, with protesters
shouting, "Death to Israel, death to America." Other demonstrations
continued across Iraq daily for weeks after the assassination,
denouncing Israel's actions. Even US-appointed puppets in Iraq's Interim
Governing Council expressed grave concerns that the killing of Yassin,
who was highly respected throughout the Arab world, would escalate
violence in Iraq. This concern materialized within hours, as blood began
to flow throughout central and southern Iraq.
On the same day Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani, who commands more
followers than any leader in Iraq, political or spiritual, released an
unusually staunch statement of criticism, referring to the assassination
of Yassin as "an ugly crime against the Palestinian people" with an
injunction, "We call upon the core of the Arab and Islamic nations to
close ranks, unite and work hard for the liberation of the usurped land."
March 22, 2004, Gaza
While he was being wheeled out of his morning prayer session in his
wheelchair on March 22, 2004, Sheikh Ahmed Yassin was assassinated by
US-built Hellfire missiles fired by a US-built helicopter piloted by
members of the Israeli military. The quadriplegic elder die along with
two of his bodyguards and six bystanders. The half-blind Hamas leader
was replaced by his son Rantissi, who was also murdered shortly after
his father, on April 17th.
There was a clear connection between events in Gaza and what these
generated in Iraq.
This act of state-sponsored terrorism by the Israeli government was
opposed even by British Foreign Secretary Jack Straw, who said, "It
[Israel] is not entitled to go in for this kind of unlawful killing and
we condemn it. It is unacceptable, it is unjustified and it is very
unlikely to achieve its objectives."
Reaction from the United States? The usual feeble inauthentic mumblings
of "We condemn this attack." Once again actions spoke far louder than
words when the US vetoed a UN resolution condemning Yassin's assassination.
Cofer Black later became Vice President of Blackwater USA, the erstwhile
employer of the four mercenaries killed in Fallujah.
The ongoing alliance of unbridled and unbalanced military aid flowing
into Israel from the US has gone unchallenged for years. "Since 1976,
Israel has been the largest annual recipient of US foreign assistance,
and is the largest cumulative recipient since World War II," according
to an Issue Brief <http://www.adc.org/IB85066.pdf> for Congress from
2002. This US military support to Israel has caused, especially in Iraq,
an incredible backlash against US troops and contractors. This is not
helped by the fact that much of this aid comes in the form of weapons.
Israel is one of the largest importers of weapons from the US, and in
the last decade alone, Israel purchased
$7.2 billion in weapons and other military equipment. As a result,
Israel is now the proud owner of the largest fleet of F-16 fighter jets
outside of the United States.
I found it to be common knowledge in Iraq that, during the last six
years of the Clinton presidency, the US gave Israel free weapons and
ammunition, such as M-16 rifles, grenade launchers, .50 caliber machine
guns and the ammunition for all of them.
The reputation of the US in the region has been further demolished both
by the failed occupation of Iraq and by its perpetual support for
Israeli policies, generally viewed with contempt throughout the Arab and
Muslim world. The ongoing violations of international law by both
countries don't exactly assist matters either.
Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, who had given the "green light" for the
Yassin operation, monitored its progress in real-time video transmitted
from the Israeli military helicopters. His ecstasy was accompanied by
complete dismissal of all international criticism.
Ask any US military commanders how they feel about the deaths of US
soldiers in Iraq generated by revenge attacks in reaction to Israeli
military policy against Palestinians. The consensus is an overwhelming
thumbs down regarding the effectiveness of the strategy.
One could ask the families of the four Blackwater USA mercenaries who
were killed in Fallujah on March 31, 2004, as well. The four men were
killed in a revenge attack that had twofold causes - reports had been
coming out of Fallujah for months about assassinations, rape and thefts
carried out by "plain clothed" men working for the US military. But more
pertinent to this particular attack is the date on which it occurred.
I remember seeing photos of Sheikh Yassin in several areas of Baghdad
and Abu Ghraib while both entering and exiting Fallujah on April 9 and
10, during the US attack on the city. The photos of the slain Hamas
leader were pasted on the sides of cars, trucks, roadside food stalls
and even some houses.
It would appear that Cofer Black had left Israeli Prime Minister Sharon
out of the cooperation loop of his counterterrorism strategy, as the
Israeli military was being instructed by Sharon to carry out operations
that engendered severe repercussions in Iraq and took the form, and
continue to take the form, of dead American soldiers.
Not so coincidentally, less than a year after the first siege of
Fallujah, on February 4, 2005, Cofer Black was named Vice-Chairman of
Blackwater USA. The press release proudly announced his arrival in the
company's leadership, asserting that during his time in the State
Department Black's responsibilities included "coordinating US Government
efforts to improve counterterrorism cooperation with foreign
governments, including the policy and planning of the Department's
Antiterrorism Training Assistance Program."
Is it perhaps possible that despite a 28-year career in the Directorate
of Operations at the CIA, Black was unaware of Sharon's plans to murder
Yassin, or was unable to stop it, or most likely, approved of this
The latter possibility seems most likely when we consider the instances
of direct Israeli involvement with US policy on the ground in Iraq that
have long since come to light.
"One step the Pentagon took was to seek active and secret help in the
war against the Iraqi insurgency from Israel, America's closest ally in
the Middle East," wrote Seymor Hersh in the New Yorker
<http://www.newyorker.com/fact/content/?031215fa_fact> in December,
2003, "According to American and Israeli military and intelligence
officials, Israeli commandos and intelligence units have been working
closely with their American counterparts at the Special Forces training
base at Fort Bragg, North Carolina, and in Israel to help them prepare
for operations in Iraq." Israeli commandos are expected to serve as
ad-hoc advisers - again, in secret - when full-field operations begin.
Neither the Pentagon nor Israeli diplomats would comment. "No one wants
to talk about this," an Israeli official told me. "It's incendiary. Both
governments have decided at the highest level that it is in their
interests to keep a low profile on US-Israeli cooperation" on Iraq.)"
Hersh also told the BBC that his sources had confirmed the presence of
Israeli intelligence personnel operating inside Iraq.
During that same month, it was reported that Israeli counter-insurgency
specialists were sent to Fort Bragg to teach American special forces how
to control an unruly Iraqi population. Also during December 2003, it was
"Israeli advisers are helping train US special forces in aggressive
counter-insurgency operations in Iraq, including the use of
assassination squads against guerrilla leaders, US intelligence and
military sources said on Monday," and "The Israeli Defense Force (IDF)
has sent urban warfare specialists to Fort Bragg in North Carolina, the
home of US special forces, and according to two sources, Israeli
military "consultants" have also visited Iraq. US forces in Iraq's Sunni
triangle have already begun to use tactics that echo Israeli operations
in the occupied territories, sealing off centers of resistance with
razor wire and razing buildings from where attacks have been launched
against US troops."
Iraqis are all too aware of this, and I even saw this played out on the
ground in Samarra as far back as December 2003. I interviewed a family
whose home was demolished
by military bulldozers after a roadside bomb detonated near it hit a
passing US patrol. This, coupled with collective punishment of the city
by cuts in electricity, water and medical aid, had everyone infuriated,
and continues to do so today as these policies gain in scale, frequency
These collective punishment tactics have been imposed, to one degree or
another, in other cities in Iraq, such as Fallujah, Abu Hishma, Siniyah,
Ramadi, areas of Baghdad, Balad and Baquba, to name just a few. Iraqis
see the collective punishment meted out by Israeli military forces in
Palestinian neighborhoods in the occupied territories via Arab satellite
television networks, and are horrified to witness the very same tactics
being applied on their soil.
Another destructive link highlighting the intertwined policies of the
two countries is Abu Ghraib. In July 2004, after the torture scandal
broke, Brig. Gen. Janis Karpinski, the US officer at the heart of the
Abu Ghraib scandal, told BBC
<http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/middle_east/3863235.stm> she had evidence
that Israelis helped interrogate Iraqis at another detention facility in
Iraq. Karpinski told the BBC she'd met a man who told her he was from
Israel while she was visiting an intelligence center with a senior US
general. "I saw an individual there that I hadn't had the opportunity to
meet before, and I asked him what did he do there, was he an interpreter
- he was clearly from the Middle East," she said. "He said, 'Well, I do
some of the interrogation here. I speak Arabic but I'm not an Arab; I'm
I've spoken with several Iraqis who had been tortured in various
military detention facilities throughout Iraq. Several of them testified
to being interrogated by Israeli Mossad (an Israeli intelligence agency).
Another event that sent shock-waves throughout Iraq was the news from
December 2004 that detainees in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, were tortured and,
according to FBI agents
one detainee was wrapped in an Israeli flag and subjected to extremely
loud music in order to shake his resistance to his interrogation.
It is clear that the longer the two countries continue with the use of
their brute military power as the prime strategy in their war on
terrorism, the greater grows the threat to the civilians they claim to
This article originally posted on Truthout
(c)2004, 2005 Dahr Jamail.
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